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New York Times Bestsellers
Week of November 22, 2020
FICTION
#1  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
The Law Of Innocence
Book Jacket   Michael Connelly
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316485623 When police find the body of a client in the trunk of defense attorney Mickey Haller's Lincoln, Mickey knows he's been framed. Now he's coordinating his defense from a jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Center in Los Angeles, all the while watching his back. With a 750,000-copy first printing.
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#2  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
I Would Leave Me If I Could
Book Jacket   Halsey
 
#3  (Last Week: 2 • Weeks on List: 5)  
A Time For Mercy
 John Grisham
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#4  (Last Week: 4 • Weeks on List: 7)  
The Return
 Nicholas Sparks
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781538728574 Left with grievous injuries from a mortar blast outside his hospital in Afghanistan, orthopedic surgeon Trevor Benson returns to heal at his grandfather's cabin in New Bern, NC. There he falls for cautious Natalie Masterson and tries to help misfit teenage Callie, who might be able to clarify the strange circumstances around his grandfather's death.
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#5  (Last Week: 3 • Weeks on List: 3)  
The Sentinel
Book Jacket   Lee Child and Andrew Child
#6  (Last Week: 1 • Weeks on List: 2)  
Fortune And Glory
Book Jacket   Janet Evanovich
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781982154837 Hard to believe, but this is the 27th book in the cheeky "Stephanie Plum" series, and though plot details aren't yet available, expect the New Jersey bounty hunter to return with Lulu, Grandma Mazur, and the rest of the gang. With a million-copy first printing.
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#7  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
Marauder
 Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780593087916 In 2019’s The Final Option, Juan Cabrillo, the captain of the Oregon, was forced to sink his beloved ship in a dire emergency. Now, in the late Cussler’s suspenseful 15th Oregon Files novel, also coauthored with Morrison, Cabrillo, the chairman of the organization known as the Corporation, is taking the rebuilt Oregon on a sea trial in the Strait of Malacca when he gets a report of a tanker under terrorist attack. Cabrillo and crew rush to the rescue. Meanwhile, April Jin and her husband, Angus Polk, who each recently spent time in an Australian prison for treason, receive a posthumous message from their one-time employer, Chinese industrialist Lu Yang, asking them to continue a mission he was involved in shortly before his death. Jin and Polk, operating from a trimaran that’s armed with an experimental plasma weapon and a new paralyzing gas, set out to achieve Lu’s goal of taking over Australia. Only Cabrillo and the fabulous new Oregon with its cutting-edge weaponry stand in their way. Readers will race through the pages to see what happens next. Fans will hope this isn’t the last adventure from Cussler (1931–2020). Agent: Peter Lampack, Peter Lampack Agency. (Nov.)
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#8  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
Moonflower Murders
 Anthony Horowitz
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780062955456 Bestseller Horowitz’s masterly sequel to 2017’s Magpie Murders finds Susan Ryeland, who misses her previous work as a London book editor and publisher, discontent in her new life running a struggling hotel in Crete. Then she’s visited by Lawrence and Pauline Treherne, the owners of Branlow Hall, an upscale Suffolk hotel, who think she can help in finding their missing daughter, Cecily. Cecily disappeared shortly after calling her parents to say that an injustice had been done. At the time of Cecily’s wedding at Branlow Hall a decade earlier, Frank Parris, a hotel guest, was bludgeoned to death in his room. One of the staff, Stefan Codrescu, was convicted of the murder based on powerful circumstantial evidence. Cecily told her parents on the phone she was convinced of Stefan’s innocence after reading a mystery inspired by the Parris murder by the now deceased Alan Conway, one of Susan’s authors. Susan accepts the Trehernes’ generous fee and travels to Branlow Hall to investigate, which involves looking into Parris’s death and rereading the Conway novel for clues. Horowitz, who matches a baffling puzzle with a sympathetic, flawed lead, has never been better at surprising the reader and playing fair. This is a flawless update of classic golden age whodunits. Agent: Jonathan Lloyd, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (Nov.)
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780062955456 Susan Ryeland, the book editor who retired to Crete after solving the mind-boggling mysteries of Magpie Murders (2017), is enticed to England to try her hand at another Chinese box of a case. Eight years ago, the wedding weekend of Cecily Treherne and Aiden MacNeil at Branlow Hall, the high-end Suffolk hotel the bride’s parents owned, was ruined by the murder of Frank Parris, a hotel guest and advertising man who just happened to be passing through. Romanian-born maintenance man Stefan Codrescu was promptly convicted of the crime and has been in prison ever since. But Cecily’s recent disappearance shortly after having told her parents she’d become certain Stefan was innocent drives Lawrence and Pauline Treherne to find Susan in Crete, where they offer her 10,000 pounds to solve the mystery again and better. Susan’s the perfect candidate because she worked closely with late author Alan Conway, whose third novel, Atticus Pόnd Takes the Case, contained the unspecified evidence that convinced Cecily that Detective Superintendent Richard Locke, now DCS Locke, had made a mistake. Checking into Branlow Hall and interviewing Cecily’s hostile sister, Lisa, and several hotel staffers who were on the scene eight years ago tells Susan all too little. So she turns to Atticus Pόnd Takes the Case, whose unabridged reproduction occupies the middle third of Horowitz’s novel, and finds that it offers all too much in the way of possible clues, red herrings, analogies, anagrams, and easter eggs. The novel within a novel is so extensive and absorbing on its own, in fact, that all but the brainiest armchair detectives are likely to find it a serious distraction from the mystery to which it’s supposed to offer the key. The most over-the-top of Horowitz’s frantically overplotted whodunits to date—and that’s no mean feat. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062955456 Managing a small hotel on a Greek island, retired publisher Susan Ryeland is getting restless when her new guests announce that their daughter Cecily was married in a Suffolk coast hotel where a notorious murder took place—on the same day as the wedding. Susan's late author Alan Conway based a mystery on the murder, and Cecily, who read the book and is convinced that the wrong person was convicted of the real-life crime, is now missing. Obviously, Susan leaps to investigate. Bringing back characters from the New York Times best-selling Magpie Murders. With a 200,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Susan Ryeland, the book editor who retired to Crete after solving the mind-boggling mysteries of Magpie Murders (2017), is enticed to England to try her hand at another Chinese box of a case.Eight years ago, the wedding weekend of Cecily Treherne and Aiden MacNeil at Branlow Hall, the high-end Suffolk hotel the brides parents owned, was ruined by the murder of Frank Parris, a hotel guest and advertising man who just happened to be passing through. Romanian-born maintenance man Stefan Codrescu was promptly convicted of the crime and has been in prison ever since. But Cecilys recent disappearance shortly after having told her parents shed become certain Stefan was innocent drives Lawrence and Pauline Treherne to find Susan in Crete, where they offer her 10,000 pounds to solve the mystery again and better. Susans the perfect candidate because she worked closely with late author Alan Conway, whose third novel, Atticus Pnd Takes the Case, contained the unspecified evidence that convinced Cecily that Detective Superintendent Richard Locke, now DCS Locke, had made a mistake. Checking into Branlow Hall and interviewing Cecilys hostile sister, Lisa, and several hotel staffers who were on the scene eight years ago tells Susan all too little. So she turns to Atticus Pnd Takes the Case, whose unabridged reproduction occupies the middle third of Horowitzs novel, and finds that it offers all too much in the way of possible clues, red herrings, analogies, anagrams, and easter eggs. The novel within a novel is so extensive and absorbing on its own, in fact, that all but the brainiest armchair detectives are likely to find it a serious distraction from the mystery to which its supposed to offer the key.The most over-the-top of Horowitzs frantically overplotted whodunits to dateand thats no mean feat. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#9  (Last Week: 12 • Weeks on List: 10)  
Anxious People
Book Jacket   Fredrik Backman
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Eight people become unlikely friends during a hostage situation created by an inept bank robber.In a town in Sweden, a desperate parent turns to bank robbery to help pay the rent. Unfortunately, the target turns out to be a cashless bank, which means that no robbery can take place. In an attempt to flee the police, the would-be perpetrator runs into a nearby apartment building and interrupts an open house, causing the would-be buyers to assume they're being held hostage. After the situation has ended with an absent bank robber and blood on the carpet, a father-and-son police pair work through maddening interviews with the witnesses: the ridiculous realtor; an older couple who renovates and sells apartments in an effort to stay busy; a bickering young couple expecting their first child; a well-off woman interested only in the view from the balcony of a significant bridge in her life; an elderly woman missing her husband as New Years Eve approaches; and, absurdly, an actor dressed as a rabbit hired to disrupt the showing and drive down the apartment price. Backmans latest novel focuses on how a shared event can change the course of multiple peoples lives even in times of deep and ongoing anxiousness. The observer/narrator is winding and given to tangents and, in early moments, might distract a bit too much from the strongly drawn characters. But the story gains energy and sureness as it develops, resulting in moments of insight and connection between its numerous amiable characters.A story with both comedy and heartbreak sure to please Backman fans. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781501160837 In this latest from the author whose string of international hits began with A Man Called Ove, bossy bank director Zara, troubled husband-and-wife Roger and Anna-Lena, expecting lesbian parents Julia and Ro, charming 80-year-old Estelle, and a near-naked man wearing a bunny head all have their reasons for showing up at an open house on New Year's Eve, even as an inept bank robber rushes in and inadvertently becomes a hostage taker. This situation attracts the attention of a bumbling father-and-son police team who emerge in the end as gentle heroes but are initially stymied upon leading the hostages to safety: The bank robber is not among them. Cutting back and forth in time, the tight-knit, surprise-filled narrative slowly unravels this mystery while revealing the poignant backstories of both hostages and hostage taker, even as rattled nerves lead to some very funny exchanges. Meanwhile, the story of a suicide wrought by economic extremis quietly frames the action, unexpectedly tying together characters, and the brisk, absorbing action prompts meditation on marriage, parenting, responsibility, and global economic pressures. VERDICT Comedy, drama, mystery, and social study, this novel is undefinable except for the sheer reading pleasure it delivers. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 2/24/20.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9781501160837 Eight people become unlikely friends during a hostage situation created by an inept bank robber. In a town in Sweden, a desperate parent turns to bank robbery to help pay the rent. Unfortunately, the target turns out to be a cashless bank, which means that no robbery can take place. In an attempt to flee the police, the would-be perpetrator runs into a nearby apartment building and interrupts an open house, causing the would-be buyers to assume they're being held hostage. After the situation has ended with an absent bank robber and blood on the carpet, a father-and-son police pair work through maddening interviews with the witnesses: the ridiculous realtor; an older couple who renovates and sells apartments in an effort to stay busy; a bickering young couple expecting their first child; a well-off woman interested only in the view from the balcony of a significant bridge in her life; an elderly woman missing her husband as New Year’s Eve approaches; and, absurdly, an actor dressed as a rabbit hired to disrupt the showing and drive down the apartment price. Backman’s latest novel focuses on how a shared event can change the course of multiple people’s lives even in times of deep and ongoing anxiousness. The observer/narrator is winding and given to tangents and, in early moments, might distract a bit too much from the strongly drawn characters. But the story gains energy and sureness as it develops, resulting in moments of insight and connection between its numerous amiable characters. A story with both comedy and heartbreak sure to please Backman fans. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781501160837 Wealthy bank director Zara visits open houses to feel normal. Roger and Anna-Lena obsess over fixer-uppers because they can't manage their own marriage. Expecting lesbian parents Julia and Ro want something to agree on. And cool and collected 80-year-old Estelle has her own reasons for house hunting. They're all trapped at an open house by a masked gunman eventually less scared of the police outside than the nutty people within. With a 350,000-copy first printing.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781501160837 When the world’s most hapless bank robber inadvertently takes a group of the world’s most helpful people hostage, hilarity doesn’t exactly ensue as much as it evolves. With a failed marriage, no job, potential loss of child custody, and a looming eviction, the idea of robbing a bank presents itself as an appealing solution to this harrowing list of woes. When the bank turns out to be one of those new-fangled cashless entities, the foiled robber flees and dashes into a nearby apartment building where an eclectic group of potential buyers is suffering through a sale's pitch. Unwitting participants in the developing drama, the group nonetheless warms to their wannabe-bank-robber captor and each other over the course of the day’s events. In this small suburb of Stockholm, only the local police are on the scene, a father-and-son team who try hard not to step on each other’s toes while deescalating the hostage situation and interviewing witnesses. With poignant and sympathetic care, the always incisive and charming Backman (Us Against You, 2017), gently examines garden-variety insecurities against a quaint pre-pandemic backdrop.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781501160837 A diverse assortment of Swedes gets caught in an unlikely hostage situation in Backman’s witty, lighthearted romp (after Us Against You). On the day before New Year’s Eve, in a “not particularly large or noteworthy town,” a desperate parent attempts to rob a bank in order to provide for two young children. After the police arrive, the amateur stickup artist flees and stumbles into an apartment’s open house. The attendees, including a heavily pregnant, first-time home-buying lesbian couple; an apartment-flipping older couple; and Zara, an executive at another bank, become hostages. Meanwhile, father and son police officers Jim and Jack scramble into action. The appearance of a man wearing nothing but underwear and a bunny mask, hired by the flippers to sabotage the open house, adds to the drama. Backman layers the hostage scene with threads of backstory on Zara’s regret for denying a loan to a man ten years earlier, along with developments in Jack and Jim’s investigation. While the prose is chockablock with odd metaphors (“Our hearts are bars of soap that we keep losing hold of”) and a plot twist leans on societal assumptions, Backman charms with his empathetic description of the robber, who gradually earns sympathy from the hostages. This amusing send-up of contemporary Swedish society is worth a look. Agent: Tor Jonasson, Salomonsson Agency. (Sept.)
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#10  (Last Week: 11 • Weeks on List: 115)  
Where The Crawdads Sing
Book Jacket   Delia Owens
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780593103036 Owens (The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness), an experienced nature writer, puts her background to good use in her debut novel. Her descriptions of the Carolina coastal marsh add vibrancy to this story of Kya Clark, known as the Marsh Girl, who has survived alone there for years. Kya's story is intertwined with a 1969 murder mystery in which Kya is the chief suspect. The nature writing is lyrical, and narrator Cassandra Campbell does it justice. Unfortunately, the somewhat implausible mystery plot does not measure up to the quality of the nature prose, but the characters will keep listeners engaged. -Verdict A selection of Reese Witherspoon's book club, this should be a popular addition for most fiction collections despite its flaws.-Cynthia Jensen, Gladys Harrington Lib., Plano, TX © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A wild child's isolated, dirt-poor upbringing in a Southern coastal wilderness fails to shield her from heartbreak or an accusation of murder."The Marsh Girl," "swamp trash"Catherine "Kya" Clark is a figure of mystery and prejudice in the remote North Carolina coastal community of Barkley Cove in the 1950s and '60s. Abandoned by a mother no longer able to endure her drunken husband's beatings and then by her four siblings, Kya grows up in the careless, sometimes-savage company of her father, who eventually disappears, too. Alone, virtually or actually, from age 6, Kya learns both to be self-sufficient and to find solace and company in her fertile natural surroundings. Owens (Secrets of the Savanna, 2006, etc.), the accomplished co-author of several nonfiction books on wildlife, is at her best reflecting Kya's fascination with the birds, insects, dappled light, and shifting tides of the marshes. The girl's collections of shells and feathers, her communion with the gulls, her exploration of the wetlands are evoked in lyrical phrasing which only occasionally tips into excess. But as the child turns teenager and is befriended by local boy Tate Walker, who teaches her to read, the novel settles into a less magical, more predictable pattern. Interspersed with Kya's coming-of-age is the 1969 murder investigation arising from the discovery of a man's body in the marsh. The victim is Chase Andrews, "star quarterback and town hot shot," who was once Kya's lover. In the eyes of a pair of semicomic local police officers, Kya will eventually become the chief suspect and must stand trial. By now the novel's weaknesses have become apparent: the monochromatic characterization (good boy Tate, bad boy Chase) and implausibilities (Kya evolves into a polymatha published writer, artist, and poet), yet the closing twist is perhaps its most memorable oddity.Despite some distractions, there's an irresistible charm to Owens' first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780735219090 In Owens's evocative debut, Kya Clark is a young woman growing up practically on her own in the wild marshes outside Barkley Cove, a small coastal community in North Carolina. In 1969, local lothario Chase Andrews is found dead, and Kya, now 23 and known as the "Marsh Girl," is suspected of his murder. As the local sheriff and his deputy gather evidence against her, the narrative flashes back to 1952 to tell Kya's story. Abandoned at a young age by her mother, she is left in the care of her hard-drinking father. Unable to fit in at school, Kya grows up ignorant until a shrimper's son, Tate Walker, befriends her and teaches her how to read. After Tate goes off to college, Kya meets Chase, with whom she begins a tempestuous relationship. The novel culminates in a long trial, with Kya's fate hanging in the balance. Kya makes for an unforgettable heroine. Owens memorably depicts the small-town drama and courtroom theatrics, but perhaps best of all is her vivid portrayal of the singular North Carolina setting. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780735219090 Owens' (Secrets of the Savanna, 2006) first novel is a leisurely, lyrical tale of a young woman growing up in isolation in the 1950s and 60s, in a marsh on the North Carolina coast. Kya is abandoned by her troubled mother when she is only six. Soon after, her four, much-older siblings leave, as does her alcoholic father a couple of years later. As Kya matures and teaches herself to be a naturalist, she is torn between two slightly older boys: kind, observant Tate and rascally, attractive Chase. Chase dies falling from a fire tower in his twenties, and the investigation of his possible murder, which alternates with the story of Kya's coming-of-age, provides much of the novel's suspense. Because the characters are painted in broad, unambiguous strokes, this is not so much a naturalistic novel as a mythic one, with its appeal rising from Kya's deep connection to the place where she makes her home, and to all of its creatures.--Margaret Quamme Copyright 2018 Booklist
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NONFICTION
#1  (Last Week: 12 • Weeks on List: 5)  
Humans
 Brandon Stanton
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9781250114297 The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories. In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.” A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called The Family of Man, a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stantons project seemingly has much the same ambition. Youve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their storieswithout being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged, he writes. These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received. The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. And its been a very lonely existence since then, she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: Id like these times to last as long as possible. A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: Of course its manipulation, but why should I care? Ive been manipulated so many times in my life. A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; Id give anything to have a tribe, says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: Ive fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781250114297 Famed for his No. 1 New York Times best-selling Humans of New York and Humans of New York: Stories, Stanton goes global with a full-color photo essay presenting original images and stories from people in 40 countries. One way to connect even if we are socially distanced. With a million-copy first printing.
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#2  (Last Week: 2 • Weeks on List: 4)  
Greenlights
 Matthew McConaughey
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#3  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man
Book Jacket   Emmanuel Acho
#4  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
First Principles
Book Jacket   Thomas E Ricks
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780062997456 Pulitzer Prize winner Ricks (Churchill and Orwell) delivers an immersive and enlightening look at how the classical educations of the first four U.S. presidents (George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison) influenced their thinking and the shape of American democracy. According to Ricks, the evolution of Washington’s military strategy during the Revolutionary War drew from Roman general Fabius’s defeat of Hannibal in 203 BCE. Ricks also documents classical antecedents in the construction of the Constitution and Thomas Jefferson’s architectural plans for government buildings in Washington, D.C., and analyzes 18th-century opinions on the ancient world expressed in Robert Dodsley’s textbook The Preceptor (“a blueprint for the Declaration of Independence”) and Joseph Addison’s play Cato (which inspired Patrick Henry’s famous line “Give me liberty—or give me death”). The Amphictyonic League, a confederation of early Greek cities, is partly responsible for the U.S. Senate’s equalized representation regardless of state size, Ricks points out. The book closes with suggested steps for returning America “to the course intended by the Revolutionary generation,” including “don’t panic,” “re-focus on the public good,” and “wake up Congress.” With incisive selections from primary sources and astute cultural and political analysis, this lucid and entertaining account is a valuable take on American history. (Nov.)
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062997456 After the 2016 election, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist and No. 1 New York Times best-selling author Ricks (Fiasco) sought to understand what the Founding Fathers really had in mind. So he looked at their main reading materials, which comprised not so much the political thinkers of the era but the classics, from Xenophon and Aristotle to Cicero and the Epicureans. With a 150,000-copy first printing.
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#5  (Last Week: 4 • Weeks on List: 15)  
Caste
 Isabel Wilkerson
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780593230251 The Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist chronicles the formation and fortunes of social hierarchy. Caste is principally associated with India, which figures in the book—an impressive follow-up to her magisterial The Warmth of Other Suns—but Wilkerson focuses on the U.S. We tend to think of divisions as being racial rather than caste-based. However, as the author writes, “caste is the infrastructure of our divisions. It is the architecture of human hierarchy, the subconscious code of instructions for maintaining, in our case, a four-hundred-year-old social order.” That social order was imposed on Africans unwillingly brought to this country—but, notes Wilkerson, “caste and race are neither synonymous nor mutually exclusive.” If Africans ranked at the bottom of the scale, members of other ethnic orders, such as Irish indentured servants, also suffered discrimination even if they were categorized as white and thus hierarchically superior. Wilkerson writes that American caste structures were broadly influential for Nazi theorists when they formulated their racial and social classifications; they “knew that the United States was centuries ahead of them with its anti-miscegenation statutes and race-based immigration bans.” Indeed, the Nazi term “untermensch,” or “under-man,” owes to an American eugenicist whose writings became required reading in German schools under the Third Reich, and the distinction between Jew and Aryan owes to the one-drop rules of the American South. If race links closely to caste in much of Wilkerson’s account, it departs from it toward the end. As she notes, the U.S. is rapidly becoming a “majority minority” country whose demographics will more closely resemble South Africa’s than the norms of a half-century ago. What matters is what we do with the hierarchical divisions we inherit, which are not hewn in stone: “We are responsible for ourselves and our own deeds or misdeeds in our time and in our own space and will be judged accordingly by succeeding generations.” A memorable, provocative book that exposes an American history in which few can take pride. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780593230251 In this powerful and extraordinarily timely social history, Pulitzer winner Wilkerson (The Warmth of Other Suns) investigates the origins, evolution, and inner workings of America’s “shape-shifting, unspoken” caste system. Tracking the inception of the country’s race-based “ranking of human value” to the arrival of the first slave ship in 1619, Wilkerson draws on the works of anthropologists, geneticists, and social economists to uncover the arbitrariness of racial divisions, and finds startling parallels to the caste systems of India and Nazi Germany. The Nazis, Wilkerson notes, studied America’s restrictive immigration and anti-miscegenation laws to develop their own racial purity edicts, and were impressed by the “American custom of lynching” and “knack for maintaining an air of robust innocence in the wake of mass death.” While India abolished formal laws that defined its caste systems in the 1940s, and America passed civil rights measures in the ’60s, their respective hierarchies live on, Wilkerson writes, in “hearts and habits, institutions and infrastructures.” Wilkerson cites studies showing that black Americans have the highest rates of stress-induced chronic diseases of all ethnic groups in the U.S., and that a third of African Americans hold antiblack biases against themselves. Incisive autobiographical anecdotes and captivating portraits of black pioneers including baseball pitcher Satchel Paige and husband-and-wife anthropologists Allison and Elizabeth Davis reveal the steep price U.S. society pays for limiting the potential of black Americans. This enthralling exposι deserves a wide and impassioned readership. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners. (Aug.)
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780593230251 While researching her best-selling The Warmth of Other Suns, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wilkerson realized the importance of social order. In this outstanding work of social history, she explains how a rigid social order, or caste, is about power. Beginning with the first caste system in the United States, which started with slavery in 1619, Wilkerson details how caste would become the cornerstone of U.S. social, political, and economic policy, with whites being dominant, African Americans subordinate, and Native Americans conquered. She shows how immigrants walk into a preexisting hierarchy as they try to integrate into American culture, and how constructing one's white racial identity often means defining oneself from its opposite: Black. Powerful chapters parallel three systems—slavery in the American South, the reign of Nazi Germany, and hierarchies in India—in order to explore how each relied on control, including dehumanization, endogamy, and purity via immigration laws. Wilkerson reminds us that, despite the passage of civil rights legislation, caste endures in infrastructures and institutions, and that the election of Barack Obama was the biggest departure from this system in U.S. history. Incidents of historical and contemporary violence against African Americans resonate throughout this incisive work. VERDICT Similar to her previous book, the latest by Wilkerson is destined to become a classic, and is urgent, essential reading for all.—Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780593230251 ldquo;Just as DNA is the code of instructions for cell development, caste is the operating system for economic, political, and social interaction in the United States from the time of its gestation,” asserts Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns (2010), which garnered many honors, including the Anisfiled-Wolf Award. She explores slavery and the decimation of Native Americans, the “authoritarian regime” of Jim Crow, and the transformation of European immigrants into whites with caste status. She draws parallels between the U.S. and India, both colonized by Britain, both having achieved independence and developed democracy, yet both saddled with the legacy of severe social stratification. She also explores the history of the Third Reich for lessons on racial separation. Wilkerson details the eight pillars of caste, including divine will, heritability, enforcement by terror, and inherent superiority versus inferiority. Drawing on genetics, anthropology, religion, and economics, Wilkerson examines the history and structure of caste. But she also draws on her exceptional journalistic skills to relate stories of individuals who have suffered disadvantages and humiliation but have triumphed nonetheless. Finally, she offers the prospect for the elimination of a destructive system and recognition of a common humanity that allows us each to be who we are without judgment. This is a brilliant book, well timed in the face of a pandemic and police brutality that cleave along the lines of a caste system.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The Warmth of Other Suns topped group read lists everywhere, and Caste will be the book to read in light of current discussions about systemic racism.
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#6  (Last Week: 5 • Weeks on List: 36)  
Untamed
 Glennon Doyle
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781984801258 Motivational speaker Doyle (Love Warrior) writes of divorcing her husband, finding love with Olympic soccer player Abby Wambach, and coming out to family and fans in this inspirational memoir. Doyle's previous book concerned her attempt to heal her strained relationship with her husband, Craig, after she learned he cheated on her, and here she picks up the narrative a few years later, as she starts fresh with the attitude that it’s better to disappoint other people than to disappoint oneself. She talks about meeting Abby, while still married to Craig, at a book conference and instantly falling for her (“I put my hand on her arm. Electrical currents”), dissolving her marriage and raising her three kids in a blended family with Abby and Craig, and pulling back from her Christian faith. “I will not stay, not ever again—in a room or conversation or relationship or institution that requires me to abandon myself,” Doyle declares. The book is filled with hopeful messages and encourages women to reject the status quo and follow their intuition. “It’s a lifelong battle for a woman to stay whole and free in a world hell bent on caging her,” she writes. This testament to female empowerment and self-love, with an endearing coming-out story at the center, will delight readers. (Mar.)
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781984801258 Doyle is an activist, speaker, and best-selling author. Those who are new to her work may be pleasantly surprised to discover how much her powerful personality shines through every page. She is a terrific storyteller: personable, engaging, and likable. Her honesty can be disarming. She reveals at the start that four years ago when she was still married to her husband and the mother of three children, she fell in love with a woman, which not only upended her life for the better, it also made her feel alive for the first time since she was 10 years old. “Ten is when children begin to let go of who they are in order to become what the world expects them to be,” she writes. She became bulimic and was admitted to a mental hospital. "I understand myself differently now,” she says. Whether discussing her children or the world outside, challenging conformity, confronting misogyny, or standing up to religious bigotry, her goal as a memoirist (and as a person) is to defy expectations and to help others break out of their cultural cages so that everyone can find their own version of humanity. A bracing jolt of honesty from someone who knows what she wants to say and isn’t afraid to say it.WOMEN IN FOCUS
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780593209738 Activist, feminist, and inspirational speaker Doyle explores her journey from self-loathing through her search for perfection and then to finding and listening to her untamed inner truth. She points out that society has very strict rules and beliefs about behaviors based on gender, religion, and origin, and that our parents, our friends, and the media tame us by telling us how we should act, who we should be regardless of what is wild, natural, and free. As a floundering young adult struggling with anorexia, alcoholism, and self-destructive behaviors, Doyle discovered that she was pregnant. She decided to get married, settle down, and straighten out her life. After years of throwing herself into childcare and church, she found that she was unable to forgive her husband for having an affair. After counseling, promises, and a tour promoting a book about overcoming adversity, Doyle unexpectedly found herself attracted to a kind, exciting woman. Now her former husband, her new wife, and Doyle raise their kids in an unconventional but fulfilling manner. In this memoir, Doyle shares entertaining glimpses into episodes of her life that released her from being the nice girl who followed the codes, did everything for her kids, and lived within the world's preconceived notions. She extols the evil of gender roles both boys and girls are expected to fit into and elucidates her hands-off approach to allowing her children to be themselves—even in moments when she may not like them. Often humorous and even self-deprecating, the author writes and reads as if she is giving a series of only partially sequential speeches on a variety of topics. As concepts overlap, listeners will hear numerous repetitions of phrases and reiterations of the author's positions, but the overall effect is as if she is just conversing with them. VERDICT Doyle narrates as well, providing an engaging performance that may inspire listeners to wonder who they really are, how they have been tamed, and what they can do to break away from what feels wrong.—Lisa Youngblood, Harker Heights P.L., TX
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. "Four years ago," she writes, "married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman." That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections"Caged," "Keys," "Freedom"the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author's girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a "caged girl made for wide-open skies." She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into "drinking, drugging, and purging," Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she'd been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband's infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she'd never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she's admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of "cream cheese parenting," which is about "giving your children the best of everything." The author's fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle's therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a "dangerous distraction." Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#7  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 7)  
The Answer Is ...
Book Jacket   Alex Trebek
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A memoir from the beloved host of Jeopardy.In brief chapters copiously illustrated with photographs, Trebek steers clear of deep introspection in favor of amusing anecdotes and fond recollections of a life he insists was not particularly exciting. Though the book was clearly prompted by a 2019 diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which the author notes, with typical understatement, has taken a toll on me, he doesn't dwell on his illness. Throughout the book, the tone is upbeat and infused with gratitude and humor. Trebek tells pleasant stories about the illicit distillery his father ran in the basement of the Sudbury, Ontario, hotel where he was a chef; the scrapes the author got into at a Catholic boarding school; the advent of his famous mustache and the repercussions when he precipitously shaved it off; and the jokes played on him while he was working on a newscast at the CBC. Trebek's firm sense of what he believes is mostly public knowledge, and its clear that much of his personal life is off-limits. Of his parents' difficult divorce, he writes that they were ill-suited, and he only provides a few sentences about the kind ofresentment he felt toward his mother for concealing for years the birth of a half sibling born after his parents' divorce. Jeopardy fans will be pleased to find that much of the narrative covers some of the shows memorable moments, including Trebek's musings on some of the big winners, comic interactions with contestants, and lists of celebrities who could have made it as contenders on regular Jeopardy rather than the easier celebrity versione.g., Michael McKean, Jodie Foster, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Aaron Rodgers. Readers will likely come away from the memoir feeling even more comfortable with the author than they already did.An amiable, enjoyable series of glimpses into the life of an avuncular figure. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9781982157999 A memoir from the beloved host of Jeopardy. In brief chapters copiously illustrated with photographs, Trebek steers clear of deep introspection in favor of amusing anecdotes and fond recollections of a life he insists “was not particularly exciting.” Though the book was clearly prompted by a 2019 diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which the author notes, with typical understatement, “has taken a toll on me,” he doesn't dwell on his illness. Throughout the book, the tone is upbeat and infused with gratitude and humor. Trebek tells pleasant stories about the illicit distillery his father ran in the basement of the Sudbury, Ontario, hotel where he was a chef; the scrapes the author got into at a Catholic boarding school; the advent of his famous mustache and the repercussions when he precipitously shaved it off; and the jokes played on him while he was working on a newscast at the CBC. Trebek's firm sense of what he believes is mostly public knowledge, and it’s clear that much of his personal life is off-limits. Of his parents' difficult divorce, he writes that they were “ill-suited,” and he only provides a few sentences about the “kind of…resentment” he felt toward his mother for concealing for years the birth of a half sibling born after his parents' divorce. Jeopardy fans will be pleased to find that much of the narrative covers some of the show’s memorable moments, including Trebek's musings on some of the big winners, comic interactions with contestants, and lists of celebrities who could have made it as contenders on “regular” Jeopardy rather than the easier celebrity version—e.g., Michael McKean, Jodie Foster, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Aaron Rodgers. Readers will likely come away from the memoir feeling even more comfortable with the author than they already did. An amiable, enjoyable series of glimpses into the life of an avuncular figure. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781982157999 Jeopardy! host Trebek delivers an anodyne, anecdotal pass through his life. He touches on his childhood in Canada and his first jobs with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which led to game show hosting work in the U.S., and, in 1984, to the job that would make him a fixture of American pop culture. He peppers in some behind-the-scenes bits about ad-libbing during tapings, attributes his success as the show’s host to coming across as “comforting and reassuring,” and humbly, if implausibly, surmises that “you could replace me as the host of the show with anybody and it would likely be just as popular.” But much of the book addresses matters personal and political. He lavishes compliments on his “soul mate” current wife (sparing the details of his first marriage), champions family dinners, remarks upon his “deep love of horses,” and shares platitudes about his charitable work and support of the USO. His attempts to speak to pressing world events in a balanced fashion, however, come across as mushy; he gives superficial treatment to political crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic response, criticizing the federal government’s withholding of funds from blue states, and ends abruptly with fist-shaking at both political parties (“Enough!”). Trebek’s fans will no doubt appreciate this, but the lack of soul-searching will be a turn-off for those who don’t consider Jeopardy! to be appointment viewing. (July)
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#8  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
Pappyland
Book Jacket   Wright Thompson
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780735221253 Sportswriter Thompson (The Cost of These Dreams) uncorks a fast-paced and colorful history of 20th-century Southern culture, told through the story of charismatic cult-bourbon maker Julius P. Van Winkle III. “He’s a man around whom others tend to revolve,” Thompson writes. The story begins at a recent Kentucky Derby, where Thompson meets Van Winkle III amid a crowd of people with “seersucker stuck to their thighs” who “hold liquor like ninth graders.” In digging into the Van Winkle family’s saga of loss and internal conflict, he recounts three generations of successes and failures: It starts with patriarch Julian Proctor “Pappy” Van Winkle introducing Old Fitzgerald, a top-shelf 100-proof bourbon in 1935 and ends with the family’s reluctant sale of its distillery in 1972, due to “an eroding business and family politics.” However, the wildly successful Pappy Van Winkle bourbon that Van Winkle III created, is “a chance to soothe the pain his father felt when he lost what Pappy had built.” But it can’t revive a fading Southern culture that was largely mythical in the first place. “Being Southern,” Thompson writes, “means carrying a responsibility to shake off the comforting blanket of myth and see ourselves clearly.” Thompson more than fulfills that burden with insight and eloquence. (Nov.)
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#9  (Last Week: 3 • Weeks on List: 2)  
The Best Of Me
 David Sedaris
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780316628242 Sedaris’s brilliant knack for observational humor is on full display in this terrific retrospective essay collection (after Calypso). Culled from his previously published volumes and magazine pieces, this work focuses on the dynamics among the six Sedaris siblings and their parents (“I might reinvent myself to strangers, but to this day, as far as my family is concerned, I’m still the one most likely to set your house on fire,” he admits). Whether searching for the perfect Paris apartment with his partner, Hugh, recalling long-ago family vacations, or describing his sister Amy’s freaky encounter with a psychic, Sedaris finds ample fodder for his keen satiric sense in his life and the lives of those around him. Sedaris can take even the most serious subject—such as his sister Tiffany’s suicide—and evoke both empathy and laughter. He can also be just plain hilarious, as in “Jesus Shaves,” about a discussion of cultural differences using the limited vocabulary available to students in a beginner French class (“The rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate”). This is the perfect introduction for the uninitiated, while Sedaris’s fans will enjoy rediscovering old favorites. Agent: Cristina Concepcion, Don Congdon Assoc. (Nov.)
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#10  (Last Week: 8 • Weeks on List: 10)  
Killing Crazy Horse
 Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
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